Space to relax, stimulate senses

Yahya interacting with a few children in the sensory room.

JOHOR BARU: A welfare home here is opening its sensory room to those with special needs as a therapeutic space to aid in their sensory development.

Johor Disabled Children Charitable and Cares Organisation founder and president Dr Yahya Haidrus decided to open the free facility in the welfare home in Taman Johor Jaya here to encourage special children to be more active.

He said the welfare home’s sensory room was set up in December last year to help its residents suffering from autism, Down syndrome, hyperactivity, cerebral palsy and other physical and mental challenges improve their mood and promote learning.

“The facility, equipped with colour-changing bubble panels, dimmed lighting, floor padding, soft music and more, helps to promote intellectual activity, relaxation and stimulate their senses.

“There are many benefits to a sensory room, as it can encourage the special children to be at ease, communicate, develop their mind and increase their focus while doing an activity such as completing a puzzle.

“Some of our residents, who have aggressive tendencies, become more relaxed and calm after being in the sensory room and they usually spend 30 minutes in there, ” he said when met at the home in Jalan Keembong 45.

He added that the public would need to make an appointment to use the facility and avoid overcrowding, especially with a spike in Covid-19 cases of late.

Yahya, who lost his leg to polio as an infant, said he became wheelchair-bound after suffering a fall about five years ago.

Suffering from a disability did not deter him from getting involved in social work for more than 20 years and eventually starting his own welfare home three years ago.

“I know from experience the feeling of being incomplete and feeling like I am not good enough.

“Being involved in social work also lets me see that there are a lot of people out there who are less fortunate than me and many who need help.

“So I decided to step up this home and do the best I can to help and motivate them, to show them that one can still be confident despite being disabled, ” said Yahya, who has eight children, including a one-and-a-half-year-old baby boy whom he adopted recently.

His efforts were also recognised by the Johor state government in 2018 when he was named the state OKU (differently abled) Icon.

Yahya hopes to one day find a piece of land to build a proper welfare facility to accommodate more residents and provide additional activities and courses to help them develop their skills.

“We currently provide shelter for about 20 residents, aged between one and 30.

“While there is a long waiting list of special children, we have no choice but to turn them away as there is not enough space to accommodate them comfortably, ” he added.

For details, call 07-351 8055.

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